From Hungarian hajdúk, plural of hajdú (“foot-soldier”). The Hungarian word may derive from hajtó which meant “(cattle) drover”. In 16th century Hungary, cattle driving was an important and dangerous occupation and drovers traveled armed. Some of them ended up as bandits or retainers in the service of local landowners and many may have become soldiers. In any case, the term hajduk came to be used in the 16th century to describe irregular soldiers. There is probably an etymological link between hajdú and the Turkish word haydut which was used by the Ottomans to describe Hungarian infantry soldiers, though it is not clear whether the word travelled from Hungarian to Turkish or vice versa.
hajduk (plural hajduks)
- (historical) An outlaw, highwayman, or freedom fighter in the Balkans.
- (archaic) A mercenary foot soldier in Hungary.
- (historical) A halberdier of a Hungarian noble.
- (historical) An attendant in German or Hungarian courts.
A large number of forms are attested, many influenced by the spellings which languages other than Hungarian used. The three most common forms are hayduk, hajduk and haiduk. In order from (roughly) most common to least common, other attested forms include:
hàjdūk m (Cyrillic spelling ха̀јдӯк)